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Biological Sciences
We perform Biological Systems Science research using prediction and experimentation to understand the design of biological systems, translating the genome to functional capabilities for applications to energy, environment, and health. Microbial community research at PNNL is focusing on environment and energy processes, and rational design and development of new bioprocesses, while our health-related research is centering on how multicellular systems, tissues and organisms respond to disease and exposure to the environment.

As Light Dims and Food Sources Are Limited, Key Changes in Proteins Occur in Cyanobacteria

Using a targeted chemical biology approach, scientists at PNNL identified an important subset consisting of more than 300 proteins in Synechococcus, a bacterium adept at converting carbon dioxide into other molecules of interest to energy researchers. These proteins are involved in generating macromolecule synthesis and carbon flux through central metabolic pathways and may also be involved in cell signaling and response mechanisms. The team's results suggest potential metabolic engineering targets for redirecting carbon toward biofuel precursors.



Jansson Named President of International Society for Microbial Ecology

Dr. Janet Jansson, Director of PNNL's Biological Sciences Division was installed as president of the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) August 29 at the Society's biennial symposium in Seoul, South Korea. She will serve as president through 2016, and will preside during the period leading up to the 2018 symposium in Montreal, Canada. She has served as president-elect since the 2012 symposium. Janet, who came to PNNL in June from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is an expert in the field of molecular microbial ecology with more than 25 years experience in this area. Her current research focuses on application of omics for studying complex microbial communities in a variety of environmental systems.



Image of nanowires

Bacterial Nanowires Are Really Wires, Not Hairs

Some bacteria shoot out tendrils that conduct electricity. Now, researchers have determined the structure of one variety of bacterial nanowire, and found the wires are distinct from common bacterial hairs that they closely resemble.

Appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the results will help scientists understand how bacteria build up or break down minerals, and help them harness the bacteria to make microbial fuel cells, batteries, or to turn waste into electricity. The work was led by the University of Southern California, and contributors included researchers from PNNL, Penn State, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute.



Waters Appointed to New National Academies Committee

Congratulations to Dr. Katrina Waters, Deputy Director of Biological Sciences at PNNL on her appointment to a new National Academies Study on Predictive-Toxicology Approaches. The study committee will evaluate modern toxicology approaches for use by the Department of Defense to predict toxicity, in efforts to prevent debilitating acute exposures to deployed personnel.



Ovarian cancer image

Comprehensive Proteomic Dataset of Ovarian Tumor Samples Released

A collaboration between researchers from PNNL and Johns Hopkins University has produced a comprehensive dataset of the proteomic analyses of high-grade serous ovarian tumor samples. Such tumors are the most common cancer of the ovary. The dataset provides researchers the opportunity to develop and test novel proteogenomic integration tools and algorithms to extend their understanding of cancer biology and how genomic through proteomic changes interact to drive cancer-information that can help identify clinical targets for treatment. The dataset was released June 16 by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC). This is the one of the largest public datasets covering the proteome, phosphoproteome, and glycoproteome with complementary deep genomic sequencing data on the same tumor.



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